“Virtually impenetrable,” the Mexico border wall is a nice addition to any climber’s resume. This route refers to the latest “Rolls-Royce” design, a 18-30ft high steel wall with a 6ft blank section at the top. America’s $5.7 billion 5.9. Numerous easier variations exist.

Location: 66 miles of newly completed wall are spread out between San Diego, California and El Paso, Texas, with approximately 1 mile added daily. Check this interactive map for updates.

This popular section near San Diego, CA is double layered, offering novice and advanced variants.

Season: Year round. Claims of intense heat on the route are unfounded. Climbable even on the hottest of summer days.

Approach: Start on the United States side and climb over to Mexico. For added adventure, reverse the route. Popular sections of the wall are conveniently double layered, offering novice (18ft) and advanced (30ft) variants. Repeat as necessary.

A man takes advantage of the varying height in wall sections, making the route much easier. Note the sunny daytime ascent.

Route: [Difficulty: 5.9. FA: this man, 20ft section, French free]

Use an assortment of techniques to shimmy up the pillars (5.7), ranked in order of best to worst style:

  • Double fist stack. Chicken wing for those with unusually small sized hands. Bar spacing allows for foot jamming and partial t-stacks.
  • Layback with toe hook. Stylish but pumpy.
  • Monkey hump. Not at all elegant.

A man considers the double fist stack technique, but his hands are too small.

The ignoble monkey hump.

The last 6ft of the climb contains the crux. This fearsome smooth blank metal wall earns the climb’s reputation as “virtually impenetrable.” Perhaps, if not for the cracks between the panels. Layback or jam up the finger cracks (5.9). Feet can be an issue here. Some sections have horizontal plates between the pillars near the top, affording a key foothold.

A man selling guidebooks at one of the most impressive sections of the climb. Note the sections of joined pillars here.

Descent: Downclimb, or lower off a bat hook.

Bust factor: Varies significantly between the south and north aspect. Avoid patrols.